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A Message From Our Local Member

By Dr Kerryn Phelps on April 26, 2019 in News

An independent voice, by Alex Michael.

Last October, voters in the Wentworth by-election decided that they wanted to be a force for change and demand politics done differently. They were sick of the revolving door of leadership, sick of petty internal party games, sick of jobs for mates and sick of political decisions being controlled by vested interests. That is why you voted for an independent. That is why you voted for me.
I have only been in parliament for a short time but I am proud of my record and what we have achieved. I have forged positive collaborative relationships with my crossbench colleagues and I have operated in Canberra with conviction and integrity, and a belief that individuals can improve the national political conversation. I have delivered on my promises.
During the by-election two of my key policies were providing more humane treatment to asylum seekers and getting kids off Nauru. I am proud to say that as a direct result of pursuing these issues, all children and their families have now been removed from indefinite detention on Nauru. This was a big win for Wentworth and for Australia.
The Medevac legislation is a second important win and an example of the collaborative efforts of the crossbench to refine policy and deliver results. The new rules mean we now have a codified method for treating very sick people under Australia’s care in offshore detention that puts more of the decision-making in the hands of doctors, not bureaucrats. Despite what you might have read, border security is not compromised by the new rules as the minister still retains oversight.
This is only a start, there is much more to do. We need strong action on climate change, including a shift away from coal towards a clean energy future. We also need a national set of environment laws, a dramatic reduction of ocean plastics and air quality monitoring in our electorate to make sure we stay healthy.
I strongly believe that a National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission with broad jurisdiction and strong investigative powers is needed to restore faith in our politics. There have been a number of scandals that have undermined our trust in national institutions and our elected representatives. This includes – but is not limited to – over one million dead fish as a result of the gross mismanagement of the Murray-Darling River Basin, as well as the Paladin scandal that saw $423 million of taxpayers’ money awarded to a small company run out of an abandoned shack on Kangaroo Island to deliver security and services to offshore detention facilities on Manus Island.
At a time of great prosperity in Australia, the arts, culture and the ABC are forgotten. Many in the Liberal Party want to sell off the ABC and I find that ideologically-driven position to be unconscionable.
I am continuing to work hard for a second high school in Wentworth. Our wonderful primary schools are increasing their enrolments year on year but our one and only public high school, Rose Bay Secondary College, is full.
We also need to improve public transport, particularly the bus service from Bondi to Coogee that only runs on weekends in summer. Many residents are worried about overdevelopment and spot re-zoning and we need to keep on top of that as well.
Finally, a message to the nearly 20 per cent of people in Wentworth who didn’t vote in the recent by-election: please get out there and exercise your democratic right to vote because every vote counts in what is likely to be a very close race. Our shared future is on the line.
Wentworth is a unique and proud electorate. Historically we are recognised as thought leaders and drivers of change. We think largely outside the square and that is what I want to nurture and inspire, because this is the kind of thinking we need in order to create a better future for all of us – locally, nationally and globally. The Wentworth electorate is a leader – not a follower – and our new political independence strengthens our ability to be better, together.